ASTANA – President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree on Dec. 26 introducing the new anti-corruption strategy for 2015-2025 initiated by the Nur Otan party in July of last year. The document mainly concentrates on measures preventing the conditions that foster corruption rather than fighting the consequences of corruption. It calls for an “eradication of legal nihilism in society.”
The strategy says the leading role should be given to a package of preventive measures aimed at radically reducing the level of corruption by eradicating the causes and conditions that give rise to it in the state and society. The emphasis is placed on eliminating corruption preconditions and not on fighting its consequences.
The document also aims at increasing cooperation with various target groups within the civil sector and the business community, as there is a need to develop new relations between the government, citizens and businesses based on an equal and responsible partnership. An anti-corruption road map and specific action plans will be developed for each five-year period.
The key goals of the strategy are forming an anti-corruption culture; fighting corruption in the public, quasi-public and private sectors; introducing the institute of public control; preventing corruption in judiciary and law enforcement bodies; developing international cooperation in fighting corruption; and monitoring the progress of the programme.
In the meantime, Kazakhstan has improved its standing in the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, rising from 140th to 126th overall and gaining three points on the previous score of 26. The country also fares significantly better than some of its Central Asian neighbours.
Last year’s climb stems from Kazakhstan’s efforts in implementing reforms, namely the 2011-2015 anti-corruption programme, which contained a number of measures aimed at improving the legislative framework, reducing the risks of corruption in government bodies and eliminating the country’s shadow economy. Key initiatives include the introduction of criminal liability for illicit enrichment, as well as the abolition of the Agency on Combating Economic and Corruption-Related Crimes and transfer of its powers to the newly created Agency on Civil Service and Countering Corruption (for corruption-related crimes) and the Ministry of Finance (for economic and financial crimes).
In terms of legislative developments, a new Criminal Code came into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. Among other measures, the code introduces additional mandatory sanctions for corruption-related crimes, such as loss of rank and state decoration and a lifetime ban on holding public office.
The new 10-year strategy notes that corruption is a problem existing in all countries, differing only in typical manifestations and scale.
“In determining the causes, conditions and consequences of corruption, such factors as local mentality, national and religious differences [and] the level of legal culture should be taken into account,” it points out.
The document stresses that intolerance of corruption should become the “civil position of every citizen of Kazakhstan,” while honesty and integrity should be a “norm of behaviour.” In the absence of such a culture in society, it will be impossible to eradicate corruption. Each individual and every family should understand that fighting corruption is the task of the whole society.
“Only by nurturing anti-corruption standards of conduct from the earliest age will we be able to eradicate this social evil. It is important to bring up a child in the spirit of Kazakhstan patriotism and rejection of corruption. Educational anti-corruption courses should cover all educational institutions, government agencies and civil society as a whole,” the document proposes.
However, this is still a massive, complicated task requiring the knowledge of professionals who “can explain the mechanisms of obtaining public services, protecting rights and lawful interests of citizens in an accessible and qualified manner.”
The text also draws attention to the fact that at the legislative level, violations of norms and rules of professional ethics have not been distinguished from actual corruption offences. This “distorts the real picture of propensity for corruption, prevents the concentration of state efforts on acute directions in the fight against corruption and leads to an increase in corruption ratings of the country.”
The document stresses that the government will continue creating conditions under which the use of official powers for personal gain will be unprofitable and impossible.
For example, it is proposed to provide gradual, regular wage increases to improve the social well-being of civil servants, serving as an incentive for carrying out duties in a fair and equitable manner.
Another important measure envisioned is the obligation of public servants to declare not only their incomes but also their spending.
In general, the principle of transparency is a key factor in the fight against corruption, and therefore the work on its implementation will be carried out on a regular, systematic basis, including by monitoring the quality and accessibility of public service delivery. The volume of services provided to the public in an electronic format will grow, including the issuance of various permits.
The strategy aims at making the procedure of obtaining public services simpler and more transparent. In this regard, a number of government functions will be gradually transferred to the private sector and self-regulatory organisations.
In addition, an institute of public control will be introduced. This requires not only the activation of civil society, but also the appropriate legal regulation. Adoption of the law “On public control” will first create an integrated system of civilian control by establishing the basic rules of its organisation and implementation.
The strategy stresses that an important factor in a successful fight against corruption is the ability of citizens to participate directly in solving local issues. This will be facilitated by the adoption of a law providing for the empowerment of local governance.
The working group that elaborated the strategy included representatives of the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Agency on Civil Service and Countering Corruption, the Senate, the Academy of Public Administration under the President of Kazakhstan, as well as the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, political parties and nongovernmental organisations.
More than 900 suggestions and additions to the draft programme were received from party members, experts and Internet users in the course of its development, changing 40 percent of the original text of the draft programme.